Returning To A Familiar Role
March 1, 2001
Hometown:Los Angeles, CA
High School: Beverly Hills HS
Jeff Bruksch has always loved being on the mound as much as possible. Last year, when Bruksch transferred to Stanford from USC, he faced a major obstacle to this love when he found himself on a pitching staff that featured a trio of returning starters that had combined for a 28-4 record and a 4.11 earned run average on a 1999 team that finished tied for third at the College World Series.
Bruksch understood that he probably wasn't going to immediately jump into a role as a starter last season and needed to find another way to get on the mound consistently. He quickly established himself as the club's top reliever and had one of the best years ever by a Cardinal closer, tying a school record with 13 saves and making a team-high 29 appearances.
Still, Bruksch desired to return to his role as a starter.
'My goal has always been to be a starter,' said Bruksch, who prior to last season hadn't pitched regularly in relief since his sophomore year in high school. 'Throwing out of the bullpen last year was the real transition. Making the transition back to being a starter this year has been easy. It's much easier to get into a routine. I've been a starter pretty much my whole life. I think I'm a little more valuable as a starter because I've always been able to go deep into the games and throw a lot of innings.'
Bruksch is reaching his goal of being a starter nicely this season and has indeed been valuable to the Cardinal. After a couple of no-decisions in his first two starts at Fresno State and Cal State Fullerton, Bruksch has been dominant in three consecutive wins over Florida State, Texas and Santa Clara. Bruksch recorded the first shutout of his collegiate career in his most recent start versus Santa Clara on February 25, holding the Broncos to three hits and no walks while tying his career-high with nine strikeouts. Bruksch was named a Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week and earned Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors for his efforts. He has now thrown 17.1 consecutive scoreless innings in his last two games. He entered the ninth inning of a 5-0 win at Texas on February 17 with a shutout and recorded an out before giving way to Mike Wodnicki, who came on to record the final two outs and combine with Bruksch for a three-hit shutout.
Although all three regular starters from the 2000 team finished their Stanford Baseball careers last year, Bruksch's spot in the 2001 rotation was no lock prior to the season. The Cardinal still had nine of its 13 pitchers returning and was adding current Friday starter Jeremy Guthrie to the mix of talented arms.
'I think I was in the mix from day one of practice, but I think there were at least six candidates to fill spots in the starting rotation,' added Bruksch. 'I started sensing that I would be one of the starters towards the end of January, but I still wasn't told until the first week of the season.'
'I expressed interest in starting after last season, and I was able to start last summer in the Cape Cod League,' said Bruksch. 'Originally, my coach in the Cape Cod League had planned on having me close all summer. It was kind of hard expressing that I wanted to start because they were expecting me to close. I just told them I had a chance this year (to start) at Stanford.'
Last summer's work as a starter has paid off.
'The thing I had trouble with last year was that I just wanted to get in the game so bad some times when I warmed up in the bullpen,' admitted Bruksch. 'Now, I know that every time I go out there that's my game. My goal this year is to win every one of my starts.'
Bruksch is indeed off to a good start. The Cardinal is 5-0 in the five games he has started.
Stanford Athletics Highlights: Has been extremely impressive in each of his last three starts, most recently with his first career shutout, a three-hitter with a career-high-tying nine strikeouts versus Santa Clara (2/25) to earn Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week and Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors ... Has thrown 17.1 consecutive scoreless innings ... Tossed 8.1 innings of shutout work at Texas (2/17), while allowing just three hits and three walks, and striking out six ... Won his first game as a starter at Stanford with 7.1 innings of four-hit, two-run baseball versus Florida State (2/10), striking out a career-high-tying nine and walking two ... Had no-decisions at Fresno State (1/26) and Cal State Fullerton (2/4) ... Leads the team in both strikeouts (37) and innings pitched (38.2) ... Made the first 30 appearances of his Stanford career (29 last year, first appearance this year) as a reliever ... Tied a school record with 13 saves during his sophomore season ... Recorded a 4-4 record with a 3.16 ERA in a team-high 29 appearances ... Had an excellent strikeout-to-walk ratio with 69 strikeouts and only 19 bases on balls.